The Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is one of the most intimate, special venues in Los Angeles, if not anywhere. John Darinelle possesses an ability to connect with his fans unlike any other performer I’ve seen. By the transitive property, then, The Mountain Goats show last week ranks among the most personal shows I have ever witnessed.

posterWith 14 albums recorded since 1994, calling Darnielle prolific would be an understatement. Establishing himself early on with a signature lo-fi, stripped down sound, he has moved in the past decade to more fleshed out arrangements with a full band. Both formats were in play this evening. The show began with piano and horns on “White Cedar” before segueing into an acoustic stretch accompanied only by light drums and bass guitar. At points, the other members of the band sat in the Masonic thrones behind them, as if Darnielle himself were holding court for all in attendance.

Equal parts charming and troubled, it was hard not to hang on the frontman’s every word. In an especially difficult moment, Darnielle informed the crowd of a friend buried just outside before playing ‘Shadow Song’ in his memory. Several songs later, 2012’s ‘This Year’ utilized the horn section yet again, lifting the audience with its very necessary messages of hope and perseverance.

As someone who just recently discovered this band, I was impressed not only by how perfectly the songs were executed, but also at how diehard their fan base is. Looking around the room, it was obvious how deep of a connection each audience member had with the music, singing along in a collective catharsis.

Consider me converted.

SETLIST: The Mountain Goats @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA || WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH, 2012

White Cedar
Love Love Love
Damn These Vampires
In the Craters on the Moon
Until I Am Whole
You or Your Memory
It Froze Me
“Blue Jays and Cardinals”
Absolute Lithops Effect
Steal Smoked Fish
Shadow Song
Your Belgian Things
For Charles Bronson
In Memory of Satan
This Year
Spent Gladiator II


Cry for Judas
Transcendental Youth
Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton